Apple has ramped up its spending on conversational artificial intelligence, according to a new report from The Information that takes a look at Apple’s AI and machine learning research.
Even though Apple’s AI chief John Giannandrea is “skeptical” of AI chatbots, he established a team to work on conversational AI four years ago. In July, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman said Apple is working on its own “Apple GPT” artificial intelligence projects, which could rival OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Gurman says work on AI has become a priority at Apple during the last few months. Chatbot services and AI functions in apps have rapidly expanded in recent months, driving Apple’s exploration of the technology.
Apple has trailed a bit in the chatbot derby, which has become quite competitive since the 2022 debut of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. While Microsoft and Google now both offer chatbots, there have been no signs that Apple has a consumer-oriented chatbot launching in the near future.
Gurman says his sources tell him that the iPhone maker has developed an “Ajax” framework for large language models like ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Bing, and Google’s Bard. The company has also developed its own internal chatbot that some engineers refer to as “Apple GPT,” which is a play on ChatGPT. However, Gurman says Apple does not yet have a “clear strategy” for creating a product for consumers.
Apple is reportedly worried that it is lagging behind on new AI-based technologies, which are quickly changing how users interact with smartphones. Currently, Apple is limiting access to the “Apple GPT” technology, as Apple employees must get special access to access the chatbot app that Apple is currently working on, and the app’s output cannot be used to develop new product features for customers. Apple GPT can currently answer questions based on the data that Apple used to train it.
Apple has built the Ajax platform based on Google’s Jax machine learning framework, which runs on Google Cloud. Apple had reportedly trialed OpenAI’s technology for its corporate teams but decided against signing a contract with OpenAI.
Apple is reportedly spending millions of dollars per day training its language models. Apple’s main AI goal is to develop a feature that would allow a voice assistant like Siri to automate multi-step tasks. The Siri team could have multi-step voice-controlled automation ready for use in iOS 18.
While that type of functionality is available on the iPhone today, users must manually set up workflows using the Shortcuts app.